August 19, 1909 – Butter from Oil, Milk from Kerosene?

“Skilled chemists…can convert the kerosene into sweet milk.”

As public sentiment turns against monopolies – and following journalist Ida Tarbell’s 1904 book, The History of the Standard Oil Company - the company becomes a target for humorists.

“The Standard Oil Company has decided to drive the cow and the dairyman out of business,” declares a fanciful story from Jersey City.

“Its skilled chemists have discovered a process whereby they can make gilt-edge butter as a byproduct of crude petroleum,” notes another satire, which declares Standard chemists, “in the steps leading up to the petroleum butter discovery, also have perfected a cheap process by which they can convert the kerosene into sweet milk.”

August 19, 1957 - First and Only Oil found in Washington State

Surrounded by unsuccessful attempts, Washington’s first and only commercial oil well (red) will produce 12,500 barrels before being capped in 1961.

The first and only commercial oil well in the state of Washington is discovered by the Sunshine Mining Company. The Medina No. 1 well flows 223 barrels a day from a depth of 4,135 feet near Ocean City in Gray Harbor County.

Although a well drilled six years earlier produced 35 barrels a day, the Tom Hawksworth-State well was deemed noncommercial and abandoned. The West Coast’s Medina No. 1 well will produce 12,500 barrels before being capped in 1961..

“About 600 gas and oil wells have been drilled in Washington, but large-scale commercial production has never occurred,” explains a 2010 report from the Washington Commissioner of Public Lands.

“The most recent production, which was from the Ocean City Gas and Oil Field west of Hoquiam, ceased in 1962, and no oil or gas have been produced since that time,” the commissioner adds, noting that some companies are exploring for coalbed methane in western Washington.

August 24, 1892 – Gladys City Oil, Gas & Manufacturing Company founded

Gladys City (Texas) Oil, Gas & Manufacturing Company drills near Spindletop Hill, which will become famous for a 1901 gusher.

One of the earliest Texas oil companies – the Gladys City Oil, Gas & Manufacturing Company – is formed by Patillo Higgins and three partners. They lease 2,700 acres in Jefferson County, Texas.

Higgins is convinced that an area known as “Big Hill” – Spindletop Hill – four miles south of Beaumont, has oil despite all conventional wisdom to the contrary.

As geologists would soon learn, salt domes are surrounded by oil, and one of the largest was Spindletop Hill, south of Beaumont.
Although no longer with the company he founded, Patillo Higgins will become known as the prophet of Spindletop. “It was Higgins’ dream to make Gladys City, named for his favorite Sunday school student, Gladys Bingham, a perfect industrial city based on manufacturing and the production of oil,” explains the Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum.

Although no longer with the company he founded, Patillo Higgins will become known as the prophet of Spindletop. “It was Higgins’ dream to make Gladys City, named for his favorite Sunday school student, Gladys Bingham, a perfect industrial city based on manufacturing and the production of oil,” explains the Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum.

“Patillo Higgins had noticed oil seeps and gas flares on the hill while taking his Sunday school class on picnics. To get the necessary backing to drill, he approached George W. Carroll, George W. O’Brien, and J.F. Lanier,” explains the Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum at Lamar University in Beaumont.

The new oil company will drill wells on Spindletop Hill in 1893, 1895 and 1896. All are dry holes. Although Higgins leaves the Gladys City venture in 1895, Capt. Anthony Lucas will bring in a gusher on January 10, 1901, that changes the petroleum industry forever.

The Spindletop field will produce more oil in one day than the rest of the world’s oilfields combined – and Texaco, Gulf, Mobile and Sun Oil will trace their roots to Patillo Higgins’ confidence in the Big Hill.

“Call him a dreamer, a visionary, a pioneer or ‘the millionaire’ – the life and exploits of oilman Patillo Higgins are the stuff of legend,” notes the Boomtown Museum, which hosts “Wildcatter Weekends” that include lectures, special exhibits and family activities.

Besides his ability to locate oil throughout south Texas, Higgins, in the early days of Spindletop, “oversaw the planning for an ‘industrial Utopia’ called Gladys City, including the design of a city map.”

Read more in the “Prophet of Spindletop” and “Spindletop creates Modern Petroleum Industry.”

August 25, 1922 – New Mexico’s First Commercial Oil Well

The first commercial oil well in New Mexico is spudded by the Midwest Refining Company – a wildcat well on the western edge of the Navajo reservation in San Juan County.

Oil is discovered within a month, producing 375 barrels a day from the San Juan Basin. Midwest drills 11 more wells to establish the Hogback oilfield as a major producer.

Two years later, a pipeline to Farmington is completed and oil is shipped by rail to Salt Lake City, Utah, for refining. Also read about the Hobbs oilfield in “New Mexico Oil Discovery.”

Visit the Farmington Museum, which features “Dinosaurs to Drill Bits” — an energy education exhibit that tells the oil and natural gas story of the prolific San Juan Basin.

Today, nine of New Mexico’s 33 counties produce oil or natural gas. The state is ranked fifth in U.S. oil production and sixth in natural gas production, according to the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico.